Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

by The Spark

Every day, Trump hogs the spot light.  He uses summits to attack US allies, like Canada and NATO.  He takes aim at women leaders, insulting British prime minister Theresa May and German chancellor Angela Merkel.  He walks in front of the elderly Queen of England, almost tripping her up.

Then he rubs it in.  He pretends to be best buddies with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The news media goes crazy.  “This is not a normal president” and “We’ve never had a president like this before,” they say.

That’s music to Trump’s ears.  He is playing a game to keep his base behind him.  He doesn’t mind shocking the others to do that.  It reinforces his play to look ‘tough’.

Trump poses as the champion of the (more…)

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Dunedin: Otago Socialist Society presents
Marx’s theory of capitalist crisis

Why is capitalism plagued by regular economic crises? Can capitalism avoid these crises or are they inherent in the system? What did Marx see as the fundamental cause of these crises, regardless of whether they appear first in the ‘real’ economy or the financial sector? In particular, what is ‘the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall’? What political conclusions follow from Marx’s crisis theory?

Speaker: Philip Ferguson
6pm, Monday, July 30
McNab Room,
3rd floor, central city library,
Moray Place, Dunedin

 

Christchurch: Canterbury Socialist Society presents
Harlan County USA

This award-winning film – it even won an academy award! – documents a major struggle between coal miners in Harlan County (Kentucky) and coal bosses in the 1970s.  These workers provide an inspiring example of how to fight.

7.30pm, Tuesday, August 7
The Space Academy,
371 St Asaph Street, Christchurch

by Daphna Whitmore

Hillary the woman politician and smasher of glass ceilings breezed into Auckland this week. The media coverage has ranged from gushy snippets on baby boutique shopping and gift exchanges with the pregnant Prime Minister to shallow takes on not seeing the real Clinton. That comes after a week of Royal Baby story headlines, so no surprises from the mainstream media.

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Jacinda Ardern and Hillary Clinton swapped baby gifts. No mention of troops in Iraq?

No surprises either from the three thousand people who paid good money to hear Clinton speak at what was essentially a book launch.  While they were lapping up the cliches about daring to compete and tweeting “feeling really inspired”, none seemed to reflect on Clinton’s actual record.

Not Clinton the hard done by faux feminist, but the establishment leader in the US imperialist-militarist system. Where was the commentary beyond children’s books and buzzy bees? Has Hillary the hawk, the supporter of US military adventures in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo been forgotten? How about the Hillary Clinton who voted in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2002, and promoted the weapons of mass destruction propaganda? Even later by 2007, when the whole world knew no such weapons were ever found Clinton supported continuing the war. “We cannot lose sight of our very real strategic national interests in this region” she said. (more…)

Thousands of high school workers protest in Phoenix, Arizona for pay rises and increased school funding. Photograph: Ross D. Franklin/AP

by The Spark

State-wide teacher strikes are rolling across the United States. What started in West Virginia has spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma, and now Arizona and Colorado. In every one of these states, all or most of the school districts in the state have been closed for periods of up to nine days. Tens of thousands of teachers, support personnel, and other school workers have descended on the state capitals in massive demonstrations of determination and solidarity.

In every one of these states, the teachers have made it clear that they are not just demanding pay raises or pensions for themselves. The fight has included demands for pay raises and protections for all school employees and even other public sector workers.

Broader demands

And in every state, the fight has included demands for increased school funding to improve the quality of education for the students. Striking teachers and other school employees have reached out to the students, the parents and the communities, making it clear that this is a fight of ALL working people for a better education and a better life.

These revolts follow two decades of (more…)

by Yassamine Mather

Irrespective of what the experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons say, there is no doubt that the Syrian dictator is capable of using weapons of mass destruction against his own population and it is possible that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attack in Douma.

However, the point remains that the tripartite alliance of the US, UK and France has failed to prove that the Syrian government was responsible for this terrible act before launching a military attack. In addition, after all the fake documents produced prior to the Iraq war, can anyone trust the advice of international ‘experts’? There is a level of justified scepticism amongst ordinary people about British government claims of being certain who was behind the ‘chemical attack’ used to justify the military operations of April 14.

Chemical weapons

In the current situation, when Assad is clearly winning the eight-year civil war, why would he use chemical weapons on a small group of fundamentalist Islamists, Jaysh al-Islam (an offshoot of Al Qa’eda)? After all, his government, aided by Russia and Iran, has managed to defeat the other offshoots operating in Syria and, what is more, in Douma a deal had been reached that paved the way for the departure of the insurgents.

As late as April 12, US defence secretary James Mattis was telling reporters that the United States and its allies were “still assessing” reports of a chemical weapons attack on April 7 – days after his boss, Donald Trump, and British prime minister Theresa May had declared they knew what had happened and firmly blamed Assad.

Unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and elements in the Stop the War Coalition, I have no illusions in the United Nations and the sanctity of ‘international law’. However, it is interesting to read the case made by US law professors Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway against (more…)

by Don Franks 

Last year, US ambassador Scott Brown clashed with our then prime minister Bill English, who’d described Trump’s threat to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea as “not helpful”.

In a TVNZ interview on October 15th , Scott Brown complained: With respect to the prime minister, who I do have a lot of respect for, people either love the president’s tweets or they hate the president’s tweets. But this is how the president communicates and reaches his base, and it’s effective for him… I would refer your viewers to a recent Washington Post article that came out on October 11th saying that the president’s policy, after years of basically languishing, are actually working”. Scott Brown went on at some length to make it clear that in future he expected more compliance from New Zealand politicians.

Since the governing Labour/NZ First coalition has been going, the US ambassador has not needed to caution our government on matters of foreign policy. It would seem the lesson has been taken. 

Soon after becoming prime minister, Ardern made it clear that her government would be prepared to support an attack on North Korea. Her statement was hedged around with talk of negotiations and UN resolutions but it was unambiguous. Military support was a last resort, but a resort no less. And there was no comment from her about Trumps’s continuing bellicose rhetoric being “unhelpful”.

On April 14th this year Jacinda Ardern declared that New Zealand “accepted” the US-British-French missile strikes on Syria. Ardern told reporters that her government had been informed about the attack hours in advance.

Asked by reporters if she would send troops to Syria, Ardern did not rule it out, responding: “That’s a hypothetical. We haven’t been asked.” 

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Ardern firmed up her pro-war response after meeting with Merkel

She said she would discuss the war with French, German and British leaders during an upcoming visit to Europe. When later conferring with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ardern firmed up her pro-war response, now saying she “utterly accepted” the need for attacks on Syria. (more…)

West Virginia school workers defied the authorities and their own union leaders – as a result they won an important victory

by The Spark

Over 20,000 West Virginia public school teachers and 13,000 school employees will get 5 percent raises, starting in July of 2018. How did this happen?

A strike that started in a few southern coal mining counties caught fire. It was joined by other workers and became a state-wide strike. Every public school in West Virginia was closed for 9 days.

In this state where public employees have no collective bargaining rights, over 30,000 people “bargained” by not going to work. They gathered by the thousands each day at the state capitol and decided together when they would go back to work.

Rank-and-file teachers made sure their strike was well organized. When union officials announced a tentative “deal” with the governor, teachers organized themselves to not go back to work. They had no trust in the politicians and wanted everything in writing.

Many teachers had not wanted to (more…)